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Wednesday, 4 December 2002
Page: 7108

Senator LUDWIG (10:47 AM) —The opposition will not be supporting the urgency motion. The reason for that— and I think it is worth articulating this—is that we have a unique period in this sitting of parliament where we have a conscience vote on this legislation. I will not be taking my full 10 minutes; I will be relatively brief. The opposition will not use the procedural motions they have at their disposal to forestall the vote on this motion. Our position is clear: we will not be supporting the guillotine in this instance. As Senator Harradine has in part mentioned—and it is worth while reiterating this—the usual course of events would be for the committee stage to continue until its completion. With the cooperation of senators, my view is that that would have been completed some time this week.

There is no pressure on the legislative program that would require this bill to be declared an urgent bill and a motion such as this to be put in place at this time. We are still in the penultimate week of the sitting period—we are not in the last week. Bills do need to be dealt with in these last two weeks. Essential bills do get dealt with, with due consideration and appropriately, by this house. The use of this device should not be abused. It should not be used to deal with legislation in the committee stage in a way that has been enjoined by all the senators here. It seems to me that there is no pressure to require such a motion before us. Without wishing to take up any more of the time which would otherwise be devoted to the committee stage of this bill, we reiterate our opposition to this motion.